Chicago Indymedia : http://chicago.indymedia.org/archive
Chicago Indymedia

News :: [none]

Mandela to Apologize for Supporting U.S. on Terror War

JOHANNESBURG - Former South African president Nelson Mandela will hold meetings with Muslim leaders this month to apologize for his originally vociferous and unqualified support to the U.S.-led coalition's war on terrorism in Afghanistan.
Mandela to Apologize for Supporting U.S. on Terror War
by Farah Khan -InterPress Service

JOHANNESBURG - Former South African president Nelson Mandela will hold meetings with Muslim leaders this month to apologize for his originally vociferous and unqualified support to the U.S.-led coalition's war on terrorism in Afghanistan.

South Africa's almost 1-million strong Muslim population was angered first by a joint press conference last November between U.S. president George Bush and Mandela in which the former president expressed such support.

He confirmed his views during a December meeting at a mosque in the port city of Durban and also said he believed Osama bin Laden should be captured and tried for the Sep 11 attacks on New York and Washington and that his Al-Qaeda network should be smashed.

At the time, Mandela was criticized for not displaying the statesmanship and even-handedness that characterizes his politics. The Muslim Youth Movement criticized him for not displaying commitment to the rule of law, which demands a trial before conviction.

Last week, Mandela toned down his war-talk to appease a constituency that has always been important to the ruling African National Congress (ANC). He said his initial statements had been ''one-sided and overstated''.

He also apologized for giving the impression of being ''insensitive and uncaring about the suffering inflicted upon the Afghan people and country'' in the course of the war against terrorism.

Mandela has written to Bush conveying his qualification.

In addition to Mandela's atonement, deputy president Jacob Zuma also attended another Durban mosque this week to convey the same message.

Wearing a checkered Palestinian scarf and a kafiyeh (Muslim skullcap), he called for a more fair application of the term ''terrorism''.

Zuma said it was not even-handed to apply the epithet only to the attacks on the United States and not to the fall-out experienced by Afghan civilians in the course of the war on terrorism.

Both the government and Mandela have, however, remained unreserved in their condemnation of the Sep 11 attacks.

In his statement, Mandela emphasized that, ''Our opposition to all forms of terrorism remains total and we support the stand of our government in joining international efforts to combat and eradicate terrorism. Those responsible for the terror acts of Sep 11 must be apprehended and brought to trial."

Mandela's damage-control exercise came about after meetings with family, friends and advisers who informed him of the anger his initial statements had provoked.

''It's a very sensible approach,'' believes John Stremlau, a professor of International Relations at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. ''The war on terrorism should not divide South Africans among themselves.''

In this, said Stremlau, Mandela and the South Africa government were using the same strategy employed by Bush. ''You don't want your Islamic constituency to view the war on terrorism as an attack on Islam.''

Mandela was admonished when he first issued his broadsides. For decades, said his critics, the ANC had been labeled ''terrorists''.

Muslims have welcomed Mandela's apology, while a leading newspaper Business Day has heaped praise on him.

''By humbling himself and revisiting his position on the bombing campaign, Madiba (Mandela) has once again demonstrated his greatness in a world where politicians' egos often get in the way of reason and good judgment,'' it said.
 
 

Donate

Views

Account Login

Media Centers

 

This site made manifest by dadaIMC software